This week, curatorial
advisor Anna Drozdowski interviews Red
Thread co-choreographer Lisa Kraus with dancer Meg Foley, offering an
inside peek into the creative development of both artist’s work.
Drozdowski: Why did you choose to sew several generations
together for this project? Lisa Kraus: It came up because I saw
how the Gee’s Bend quilters pass on their ways to daughters and nieces. Also,
if you ask what it means to be dancing as an older person, you end up
contrasting that with what it’s like dancing in your twenties or thirties. Meg,
Michele and Gabi are around the ages Eva, Vicky and I were when we first met.
It made sense to see how the two kinds of energy and ability and interest work
Tell me about the things you’ve learned
from your younger contemporaries in this process.
Lisa: We’ve gone into using movement language you don’t usually associate
with older people - moves from hip hop. Meg and I captured some of her improve
and we’ve scored some sections around that quality. It’s segmented and small,
interesting in contrast to all the flowing Brown-esque quality we know so well.
Gabi is very offhand with her humor and her presence magnetizes me. I’m
studying it. And Michele, who is delicate physically but has the capacity to be
gargantuan and thrilling has us thinking about how you light fires and spark abandon…
Check out the trailer for Little Ease [outside the box], one of
the many films being shown at Motion Pictures Annual Shorts Program on
Thursday, March 4. Little Ease is a new take on a classic piece of choreography
conceived in 1985 by extreme action pioneer Elizabeth Streb.
In its current
incarnation Ami Ipapo has been
called to take on the box. As a performer she is concerned with how much to
honor the past and how much of herself to bring to the piece. As a member of
the current STREB company, Ami is keenly aware of the evolution of Pop Action
and uniquely suited to exploring this in her role as performer.
This week, curatorial
advisor Anna Drozdowski interviews Local Dance History Project artist Ishmael
Houston-Jones, offering an inside peek into the creative development of the
Anna Drozdowski: Tell me about DEAD, in two sentences. Ishmael
my late mother saw DEAD for the first time her only comment was, “Bess Truman
isn’t dead.” My reply was, “But she will be one day.”
What was happening in 1980 (or
thereabouts) that was important to your artistic growth? Ishmael: By 1980 I had left Philadelphia. I moved to New York on
Thanksgiving Day 1979. During the 1970s when I lived here, besides the Ballet,
the main players on the dance scene were Group Motion, Zero Moving Co.,
Philadanco, Juba, Arthur Hall’s Afro American Dance Ensemble, South Street
Dance Company, Joan Kerr Dance Company, Sybil Dance
Company and Ann Vachon/Dance Conduit. Toward the end of the decade there was a movement of independent choreographers
many gathered around Terry Fox’s studio in Old City. I taught and rehearsed
there, as did Terry, of course. Jano Cohen, Wendy Hammerstrom, Anne Marie
Mulgrew and others were part of a core of artists centered on the Church Street
Loft. Terry lived there with composer Jeff Cain so there were always many
musicians on the scene as well. At this time Old City was transitioning from
being a rather desolate district of light manufacturing and warehouses to an artists’
neighborhood. It was still possible to find really cheap live/work spaces so
there were a lot of visual artists living and making work in the area.
Ishmael Houston-Jones and Michael Biello today; image by Jacques-Jean Tiziou / www.jjtiziou.net
to Philadelphia Dance Projects Presents 2010, we’ll be featuring a fresh
interview with a series choreographer or dancer, offering an inside peek into
the creative development of the artist’s work. This week, we talk with Chris
Yon, a Next Up artist.
As part of PDP Presents 2010, you will present the imaginatively titled new
work The Very Unlikeliness (I’m Going to KILL You!). Is there a story
behind this performance title?Chris Yon: There is a “flashback” sequence in this piece - a
sequence that if this were a concept album, it would be the title song - an
attempt at a Fred & Ginger type number. And this was the most romantic
title I could think of…
Review of Brigitta Herman’s Physiognomy Of The Spirit By Steve Antinoff
Performed by: AUSDRUCKSTANZ // Imprints in Motion Choreographer: Brigitta Herrman Venue: Meeting House Theater, Community Education Center, Philadelphia Date: May 16-18, 2008 Cast: First dream figure: Brigitta Hermann; Second Dream Figure: Kristin Narcowich; Three Essence Holders: Rebecca Patek, Zornitsa Stoyanova, Emily Sweeney
In Brigitta Herman’s Physiognomy Of The Spirit death has two faces. One is called death. The other is called life.
The first face is Ms. Herrmann’s. My introduction to this face was decades ago, brought by a friend to a rehearsal of Group Motion. As I entered the studio a woman was moving with astonishing speed across the dance floor, every few steps convulsing maniacally. It was as if the protagonist in Edvard Munch’sThe Screamwas driven to dance. This woman was Brigitta Herrman. I was twenty and knew nothing about modern dance. She was the first “art-dancer,” and the first true artist, I had ever seen.
This latest ‘07 entry for Write on Dance is about changes that two dancers have recently faced. One is told in the third person, the other in first person. Dancers changing cities; one with success, the other with disappointment. But both overcoming physical obstacles with emboldened spirit. The spirit that ultimately is their reservoir of strength may very well be the same that dance embodies in the first place.
Hunting For The Right Moves By Lewis Whittington
Last spring, Pennsylvania Ballet soloist Phil Colucci danced in Val Caniparoli’s ‘Lambarena’ portraying one of the hunter-warriors. Few in the audience were aware that this was his symbolic company bow out- He had been pursuing fresh territory as a dancer for three years.
The Perils of Performing Works-In-Progress By Lewis Whittington
You better Cut!
Playwright Terrence McNally was in Philly this summer ‘freezing’ his new play ‘Some Men’ by The Philadelphia Theater Company before it premiere’s this fall in New York. He had already dumped two whole scenes before the month long run here and he was mostly making line cuts noting audience responses (such as laughs) for pacing. McNally told me that the audience was ‘the ‘last creative collaborator’ in the process of finishing a work.
It used to be the out of town circuit that tested the viability of a performance, but those days are long gone. In these hard economic times in theater and dance artists have to be inventive about ways to create buzz and otherwise see what works on the public stage.
For this edition of Write On Dance we wanted to tie in with PDP’s Motion Pictures series, the annual presentation of award-winning dance films and work by area videographers, and so invited the participation of makers and presenters of dance in 2D. Deirdre Towers, artistic director of the Dance Films Association, which partners with PDP in presenting Motion Pictures, is represented here in excerpts from a conversation with Lisa Kraus. Kim Arrow, on the Dance Faculty at Swarthmore College, weaves video with performance in his Quasimodo in the Outback. He offers a provocative essay examining the degrees of separation from live performance that video allows. And Tobin Rothlein, video artist, is co-artistic director of Miro Dance Theatre, along with Amanda Miller. Their mission involves creating “multi-media works which continually exhibit the integration of dance with video.” Tobin kept a web-log during a recent intensive period of work in Europe and graciously consented to let us reprint one “day in the life.”
A recent Inquirer article equated Philadelphia with Paris and the Ben Franklin Parkway with the Champs Elysées. A stretch, I thought. But then, standing at Logan Circle and looking up the stately Parkway toward the Art Museum is not so unlike standing at the foot of the Boulevard de l’Opéra and looking up toward Palais Garnier, architect Charles Garnier’s Opera building. You know immediately you’re staring at a venerable cultural institution, rich in tradition and artistic gems.